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Review of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Draft Memorandum, "NAVSEA’s 21st Century Engagement, Education, and Technology Initiative" OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS NAVSEA should explain how it plans to procure funds for its ten-year plan, given that the current anticipated funding cycle is for a period of six years. Another issue that NAVSEA faces is that of the Program Objective Memorandum (POM) cycle and federal budgeting. In the civilian sector the first step in the funding of a new initiative is “seed money.” These monies can come from several sources: discretionary in-house dollars, planning grants, or philanthropy. Government funding is far less permissive of incremental funding. It is essentially an all-or-nothing approach with no real guarantee of downstream funding. The content of the draft memorandum would be fine for a planning grant. For long-term funding, it is short on detail, leaving many unanswered questions as to the specific steps and timeframes that will be required. NAVSEA personnel have suggested that a $20M/year budget is anticipated for a six-year period. If so, the proposed ten year plan needs to match the anticipated funding profile. NAVSEA should begin thinking now about defining metrics of success and measuring impact. NAVSEA should decide early on about how it will assess whether its activities are having their desired effect. This should include defining metrics of success as well as plans to collect data and carry out a program evaluation or research throughout the projects. Such research ought to be designed to allow for continuous improvement of each stage and to generate important information for other efforts/stages. Many federal agencies and other groups conduct program evaluations and there is a wide body of literature on this topic. NAVSEA should elaborate on its efforts to attract and retain qualified STEM applicants to its workforce. The draft memorandum contains little discussion on efforts to recruit or retain NAVSEA personnel. Certainly, the two are interrelated. NAVSEA may find it easier to develop and retain a workforce that is already attracted to it. At the same time, its ability to attract S&E personnel depends in part on what it does to develop and support those employees once they are hired. Achieving the goal of being one of the top ten places to work is a formidable undertaking that cannot be accomplished through modest modifications to the work environment. NAVSEA should think carefully about what initiatives like educational opportunities for personnel.24 That will result in an engaged workforce that is capable of the innovations needed to fulfill the NAVSEA’s mission. 24 This participation can be mutually beneficial: as noted in the memorandum, NAVSEA employees can gain valuable educational experience by connecting with universities. As a direct result of NNRNE funding, Virginia Tech (VT) transitioned their distance learning MS degree program to an entirely online delivery format (see http://www.nnrne.com). Many of VT’s online students are U.S. Navy civilian employees. Under NAVSEA support, the University of Michigan created a “Summer Naval Surface Ship Design Program,” targeting subjects of direct interest to civilians working with the surface fleet (see http://www.umich.edu/~snssdp/).
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Review of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Draft Memorandum, "NAVSEA’s 21st Century Engagement, Education, and Technology Initiative" Finally, NAVSEA should note in the draft memorandum that the Gathering Storm report was authored by the National Academies (NA), and not the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Overall the committee is supportive of the general thrust of the NAVSEA initiative. We believe that the overall budget and program will be more defensible if it is more carefully focused and there is a well laid out plan to track results back to clear objectives. Sincerely, Marc Pelaez, Chair Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Retired) Committee to Review the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Draft Memorandum, “NAVSEA’s 21st Century Engagement, Education, and Technology Initiative”